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The Nation as Fiction/Fictionalizing the Nation

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Nigerian Literary Imagination and the Nationhood Project

Part of the book series: African Histories and Modernities ((AHAM))

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Abstract

This chapter explores how Nigerian fictional literature conceptualizes Nigerian nation-statehood and interprets history. It examines the lines—sometimes blurred—between history and literature and how literature is often a reproduction of or a commentary of society. It also examines the consequences of Nigeria as a society, not only being the framework of a story but also its subject.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Michael Green, “Social History, Literary History, and Historical Fiction in South Africa,” Journal of African Cultural Studies 2 (1999): 121–136.

  2. 2.

    For a better understanding of this, see: Mathew Eatough, “African Science Fiction and the Planning Imagination,” The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Inquiry 4, no. 2 (2017): 237–257.

  3. 3.

    Susan Arndt, “Perspectives on African Feminism: Defining and Classifying African Feminist Literatures,” African Feminisms 2, no. 54 (2002): 31–44; Jane Bryce, “‘Half and Half Children’: Third-Generation Women Writers and the New Nigerian Novel,” Research in African Literatures 39, no. 2 (2008): 49–67.

  4. 4.

    Peter Barry, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), for a better understanding of new historicism as a mode of interpreting texts that balances literary and non-literature texts, providing avenues for historicizing literature and textualizing history. Also see: David Polkinghorne, “Narrative and Self-Concept,” Journal of Narrative and Life History 1 (1999): 135–136, for how narratives are much more than texts and could be anything including those aspects of human lives that are narrativized by their routine, ritualized enactments, or even by/in their daily existences.

  5. 5.

    Eatough, “African Science Fiction,” 239.

  6. 6.

    Ayo Kehinde, “Post-Independence Nigerian Literature and the Quest for True Political Leadership for the Nation,” Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa 10, no. 2 (2008): 333.

  7. 7.

    Ayo Kehinde, “Intextuality and the Contemporary African Novel,” Nordic Journal of African Studies 12, no. 3 (2003): 372–386.

  8. 8.

    Polkinghorne, “Narrative and Self-Concept,” 135–136.

  9. 9.

    Kehinde, “Post-Independence,” 333.

  10. 10.

    Kehinde, “Post-Independence,” 333.

  11. 11.

    Kehinde, “Post-Independence,” 334.

  12. 12.

    George Lukács, The Historical Novel, trans. Hannah and Stanley Mitchell (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981), 290.

  13. 13.

    Green, “Social History,” 124.

  14. 14.

    Ernst Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (London: Basil Blackwell, 1983), 55.

  15. 15.

    Green, “Social History.”

  16. 16.

    Green, “Social History,” 122.

  17. 17.

    Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991), 6–7.

  18. 18.

    Green, “Social History,” 122.

  19. 19.

    Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction,” in The Essays of Virginia Woolf, ed. Andrew McNeille (London: Hogarth Press, 1984), 157–165.

  20. 20.

    Woolf, “Modern Fiction.”

  21. 21.

    Obi Nwakanma, “Metonymic Eruptions: Igbo Novelists, the Narrative of the Nation, and New Developments in the Contemporary Nigerian Novel,” Research in African Literatures 39, no. 2 (2008): 1–14.

  22. 22.

    O. Alubo, Nigeria: Ethnic Conflicts and Citizenship Crises in the Central Region (Ibadan: PEFS, 2006).

  23. 23.

    Walter Mignolo, “Putting the Americas on the Map: Geography and the Colonization of Space,” Colonial Latin American Review 1, no. 1–2 (1992): 25–63.

  24. 24.

    Suke O. Ozun and Nagiban Baskale, “The Distortion of Cultura Identity in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart,” Trakya Universitesi Edebiyat Fakultesi Dergisi 9, no. 18 (2019): 86–96.

  25. 25.

    Ozun and Baskale, “The Distortion,” 86.

  26. 26.

    See, for instance, his views in Chinua Achebe, “English and the African Writer,” Transition, no. 75 (1997): 342–349, particularly 349.

  27. 27.

    Joana Sullivan, “The Question of a National Literature for Nigeria,” Research in African Literatures 32, no. 3 (2001): 71–85.

  28. 28.

    Wend Griswold, “The Writing on the Mud Wall: Nigerian Novels and the Imaginary Village,” American Sociological Review 57 (1999): 709–724.

  29. 29.

    Griswold, “The Writing,” 717.

  30. 30.

    Griswold, “The Writing.”

  31. 31.

    Sullivan, “National Literature,” 83.

  32. 32.

    Chinua Achebe, Morning Yet on Creation Day (New York: Doubleday, 1975), especially 56–57.

  33. 33.

    Ime Ikiddeh, “Literature and the Nigerian Civil War,” Presence African Editions 98, no. 1 (1976): 163.

  34. 34.

    Ikiddeh, “Literature and the Nigerian Civil War.”

  35. 35.

    Ikiddeh, “Literature and the Nigerian Civil War,” 165.

  36. 36.

    Ikiddeh, “Literature and the Nigerian Civil War,” 167.

  37. 37.

    Bryce, “‘Half and Half Children.’”

  38. 38.

    Griswold, “The Writing,” 177.

  39. 39.

    C. Uwasomba, “Helon Habila: Narrating the Dysfunctional Baggage of a Post-Colony,” The Journal of Pan-Africa Studies 6, no. 7 (2014): 196–208.

  40. 40.

    Uwasomba, “Helon Habila,” 196.

  41. 41.

    Kehinde, “Intextuality.”

  42. 42.

    Kehinde, “Post-Independence.”

  43. 43.

    Kehinde, “Post-Independence,” 334.

  44. 44.

    Arndt, “Perspectives on African Feminism,” for lens applying to the common approaches by Nigerian feminist narratives that deal with women’s reality. These perspectives are grouped by Arndt to tease out the various ways African feminist texts pursue the idea of female independence, literally and figuratively.

  45. 45.

    Bryce, “‘Half and Half-Children,’” 53.

  46. 46.

    Bryce, “‘Half and Half-Children,’” 54.

  47. 47.

    Pius Adesanmi, “Of Postcolonial Entanglement and Duree: Reflections on the Francophone Novel,” Comparative Literature 56, no. 3 (2004): 228–242.

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Correspondence to Toyin Falola .

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Falola, T. (2022). The Nation as Fiction/Fictionalizing the Nation. In: Nigerian Literary Imagination and the Nationhood Project. African Histories and Modernities. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-01991-3_1

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